Fourth-year University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson students ripped open envelopes to learn where they’ll launch their careers as new physicians.
At the March 17 Match Day ceremony, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2023 learned where they will spend the next three to seven years of their careers as physicians in specialized residency training programs.
Cheers erupted as more than 100 students tore open envelopes and embraced each other and their loved ones in celebration.
More than 40,000 soon-to-be graduates from medical schools around the country took part in the annual tradition, simultaneously learning where the National Residency Matching Program placed them.
“This exciting and significant milestone is one of the many in our students’ journey to become physicians,” said Michael Abecassis, MD, MBA, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson. “The previous leg of your journey is nearly over, and being rewarded. You should be proud of what you have accomplished so far – and confident in your ability to succeed in this next chapter.”
“Although they both serve as wonderful milestones, all the students I’ve worked with over the years are more excited on Match Day than they are on graduation,” said Kevin Moynahan, MD, vice dean for education at the College of Medicine – Tucson. “I hope that you are a better version of yourself, and the empathy that you came into medical school with is as strong or stronger than it was when you started.”
Tucson Match results
Class of 2023 students matched at 57 hospitals in 25 states, at institutions such as Yale University, the Mayo Clinic, Duke University Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and UCLA. The graduates will pursue specialties in areas such as otolaryngology, orthopedic surgery, neurological surgery, plastic surgery, dermatology, diagnostic radiology, and obstetrics and gynecology.
Nearly half of graduates will remain in Arizona and more than half of the class will go into primary care, helping address the primary shortage across the state and nation. Residencies generally start in July, and residents are required to go to the institution to which they matched.
Match Day highlights include:
43.5% of graduates will complete their residencies in Arizona:
- 33 in Tucson
- 14 in the greater Phoenix area
Thirty-eight graduates matched with Banner – University Medical Center residency programs in Tucson and Phoenix.
51.9% of graduates matched into residencies in primary care fields, defined as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology:
- 27.8% in internal medicine
- 7.4% in pediatrics
- 7.4% in family medicine
- 6.5% in obstetrics and gynecology
48.1% matched into non-primary care specialties:
- 9.3% in anesthesiology
- 9.3% in emergency medicine
- 6.5% in general surgery
- 4.6% in diagnostic radiology
- 4.6% orthopedic surgery
- 3.7% in psychiatry
Meet the Class of 2023
There were 108 students who matched into residency programs, including:
Angelica Alvarez Reyes: ‘I want to enact change with my hands’
Angelica Alvarez Reyes graduated from the University of Arizona in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in neuroscience and Spanish literature. After she receives her medical degree in May, she will move across the country to Connecticut to begin her training in neurosurgery at Yale University.
“What appealed to me about Yale were the plentiful opportunities, both clinically and in research,” she says.
Her undergraduate education in neuroscience, followed by professional experience in research labs, primed her interest in neurosurgery.
“I wanted to get into a field where I could enact change with my hands,” she said. “I’m specifically interested in the spine – the spine is like a whole other world!”
Alvarez Reyes was raised in Somerton, Arizona, an agricultural town near Yuma.
“I could not be here without all the help and support of my family and community in Somerton,” she said. “It takes an entire village to have gotten me to this point, so I owe it all to them.”
She says opening the envelope to reveal her match was an emotional experience.
“It’s taken so much work just to get to this point,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s over, and all the effort has been so worth it.”
After completing her residency, Alvarez Reyes hopes to return to Arizona and work in academic medicine.
Amanda Ruiz: ‘Put the patient first’
Peoria, Arizona, native Amanda Ruiz matched into anesthesiology with her top choice, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Ruiz was initially drawn to the Mayo Clinic because of its positive reputation with patient care.
“They’re on top of the country as far as putting the patient first,” she said. “They have a model that says the best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered, and that really fit with me.”
Ruiz was first drawn to anesthesiology as a teenager, when her baby sister needed open-heart surgery and the anesthesiologist made a connection with her family.
“My sister was 4 months old, and as stressful as everything was, what really helped was her anesthesiologist talking to us before and after the surgery,” Ruiz shared. “The way he was able to calm us down really stuck with me.”
Ruiz hopes to be that calming presence for patients and their families in the future.
Ruiz said her goals for her residency including learning how to “take care of patients and put the patient first and make them the most comfortable.”
After the residency, Ruiz has plans for a fellowship in obstetrics.
“I like being with women when they’re giving birth and helping them through that process,” Ruiz said. “I think the OB floor is the happiest place in the hospital.”
Ahmad Safdar: ‘Alhamdulillah (‘Praise be to God’)’
Tucson native Ahmad Safdar matched to an internal medicine residency at his top choice, the Cleveland Clinic.
“It felt surreal, to be honest with you,” Safdar says. “I wasn’t expecting to match with my number one, but I’m very excited and humbled with the results. Seeing my mom by my side and witnessing her emotions was everything.”
Safdar researched at the Cleveland Clinic a few months before starting medical school, and with an interest in cardiology, it was a perfect match.
“I wanted to go to the best program that could prepare me for fellowship,” he says. “The city, as well, has several professional sports teams and is close to my wife’s hometown of Mississauga, Canada. So, we could not be happier.”
Safdar’s family has a history with heart disease; almost all of his uncles have had heart attacks. After watching them go to their cardiologists for treatment, Safdar was inspired to become a doctor for people like them. He hopes to mirror all the positive traits those uncles found in their cardiologists.
“They all were very empathetic, and they listened very closely to what my uncles had to say,” Safdar remembers. “I would accompany many of them when they went to their cardiologist, and it felt more like a conversation than them being told instructions.”
As a lifelong Tucsonan, Safdar is excited for a chance to live somewhere else and experience a different winter season.
“I haven’t really experienced one before and I know Cleveland has some rough ones, so we’ll see how that goes,” Safdar said.